A Fan’s Folklore: Six Seasons of Triumph, Tragedy and Tough Luck
by Dean T. Hartwell
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I write about my favorite team, the Oakland Raiders of the mid-1970s. They are legendary to me and to the National Football League in which they played.
I recount my favorite games, Raider wins and losses. My team is the protagonist in this folklore. Their nemesis, the Pittsburgh Steelers, play the role of the antagonists. Like the mythological character, Sisyphus, the Raiders climb up the hill every season toward the top, only to face the enemy who pushes them back down.
Other events and players add to the legend. My feelings of guilt over a player who was paralyzed by a Raider. The death of a favorite baseball player at around the same time. A missed call that cost my favorite baseball team the World Series.
I realized that I was writing my own legend. Events in my own memory brought me to the point of writing this book.
My burdens in life include a kidnapping, a beating and institutionalization. I do not compare my problems to anyone else's. I simply claim them as my own.
At first my experiences conquered me. They were like demons I could not understand or fight against.
Then, thanks in part to writing "a Fan's Folklore," I came to understand my value as a person and the importance of looking forward. I started facing my demons and began competing against them as a football team would.
The biggest victory is to feel genuinely good about oneself. You become your own legend.
Ken Stabler was like a snake. He zig-zagged all over the football field and slithered toward the goal line.
Teammates knew he had no real venom. He never bad-mouthed his fellow players during the football games.
Then he found he could not slither any more. He had to be crafty to defeat his opponents.
In one of the games his team was down by 6 points and down to its last play. He was about to be tackled. He had nowhere to run and no one to throw the ball to.
He refused to give up.
That meant breaking the rules.
He rolled the ball to a teammate upfield. The teammate then rolled the ball to another teammate, who fell on it in the end zone.
The other team cried foul. They pleaded with the zebras to call a penalty.
But the Snake got away with it. Guess the zebras were blind as bats. He rolled the dice and the other team came up snake-eyes. The San Diego Chicken fainted in horror.
My brain works when it wants to. That is probably the best way I can sum up what it is like to live with bipolar disorder, which is also known as manic-depression.
My moods and my ability to think clearly go up and down a scale on a regular basis. On one side, represented by the number “1,” is the depression. On the other side, the “10,” is the mania.
Most of the time, thanks to medication, I hover around the “5” or “normal” level. I get up, go to work, pay the bills and otherwise function in society. Until they see this message, I would guess that most people who know me do not know I have this disorder.
Sometimes, though, sometimes in response to events in my life and sometimes without warning, the pendulum swings. When it swings, it usually swings toward the depression. My brain simply slows down. I cannot think clearly enough to deal with life’s issues.
What is a “1” like? Not being able to go to work. Or going to work and staring at a computer screen all day. That happened to me years ago and fortunately I took advice to get help.
What is a “10” like? The feeling of weightlessness. The feeling that I am in a dream and that there are no consequences to my actions. I don’t know if I have hit a “10” but I probably came somewhat close at city council some time ago. On an act of spontaneity, I went up to the microphone and said of the previous speaker, “A person has the right to speak but not the right to be heard,” quoting Hubert Humphrey.
Right now I am around a “5” feeling good and hope that you are, too. I hope that I have educated you a little more about this mostly invisible disorder. I am putting a picture of a peace dove because real peace starts within us.
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Dean Hartwell keeps pursuing the truth about those who govern us.